ASUS ZenFone AR
We’re all pretty familiar with virtual reality, but despite all the fanfare the big money is actually on augmented reality (AR) because it doesn’t involve strapping an unwieldy VR headset on. With AR you simply point your device and it superimposes images and video on the world around you. Up until now it has been a bit patchy at best, the problem being cameras on phones tend not to be able to capture depth too well, but Tango, a new AR platform built by Google, tackles this by adding motion tracking, depth perception and area learning to the device using special hardware. The ASUS ZenFone AR is one of the first smartphones to feature the necessary guts to bring the real world around you to virtual life.
As well as being filled with premium features (5.7-inch WQHD display, Snapdragon processor, 8GB RAM and a lovely leathery back), the AR smarts come from three (!!!) cameras; one 23MP regular camera, a camera dedicated to motion tracking and another to depth perception. It’ll also work with the Daydream VR platform as well – consider reality altered…
Preorder from £799.99 (with Daydream headset), asus.com
Wonder Workshop Dash and Dot
These days it’s not just good enough to have toys that look fun, have flashing lights and make silly noises – now you need to be able to program them to do all of those things, and that’s no bad things at all. Teaching kids to code is one of the building blocks of getting them into STEM subjects these days, and the Dash and Dot toys are cute blue and orange robots that you can program to zip around, fling projectiles, disco boogie and react to voices. They come with two accompanying apps with tips, tutorials and challenges, and are compatible with LEGO and LEGO Technic compatible bricks.
From 154.99, uk.makewonder.com
Zepp Tennis 2 Swing and Match Analyzer
With Wimbledon all but a distant memory it seems an unusual time to start thinking of tennis, but if you get on the courts now you have a nearly whole year to improve your game before you next hit a ball in anger. The new and improved Zepp Tennis sensor attaches to your racquet and connects to your phone via Bluetooth, which not only analysis your swing, spin, speed and strokes, it’ll also record your game so that you can build your own highlights (or lowlights if you’re as good as us) reel and upload them to the Zepp community. It probably won’t make you the next Andy Murray, but it’ll probably improve your game than another glass of Pimm’s will.
Not to be confused with Shakira’s World Cup-themed earworm, WakaWaka means “shine bright” in Swahili, which makes it a pretty apt name for the latest in a clever line of solar chargers. Not only do they provide free and clean energy for your mobile devices (like the WakaWaka Power+ above, with its monster 3,000mAh capacity and inbuilt light that lasts 200 hours on a full charge), but also the company uses the proceeds to donate solar power chargers to less developed regions in Africa, war-torn areas like Syria and countries hit by natural disasters such as Haiti and Philippines. So far they have donated more than 270,000 devices and hope for plenty more with the launch of their new, upgraded line of chargers. Bright stuff!
From €29.95, waka-waka.com
We’re old enough to have had a fair few game controllers pass through our hands over the years – some excellent, some not so (this one springs to mind). But given the sheer quantity of consoles out there we’re surprised it has taken anybody so long to create a gamepad that works on all our gaming rigs. Step forth the ALL Controller.
With support for everything from iOS to Xbox (even the Nintendo Switch!), as well as working with drones and VR, it’s no wonder this new games controller has smashed its Kickstarter goal, and can connect to your device through bluetooth, wireless and USB. It’s also completely customisable, with a keyboard/mouse driver for retro games, macros for killer combos and adjustable analogue stick sensitivity. Only downside? If you’re an Xbox fan those analogue sticks are in the PlayStation layout (unless they meet their stretch goal). We’ll have four please!
From CA$55 wired, CA$80 wireless, all-controller.com
To say Microsoft dropped the ball when they bought Nokia would be something of an understatement. It’s not that the phones were bad, nor the operating system as awful as people would have you believe, they just bombed – big time! Now that the brand has been taken over by manufacturers HMD things are starting to look a little rosier for the much-loved Finnish phones.
Nokia reckon selfies have had their day (yay), so Nokia are pinning their hopes instead on filling our instagram feed with “bothies”, which record through both and front cameras at the same time, and then live stream it to your favourite social networks. It could be amazing, so let’s not be too quick to judge, especially as the rest of the phone looks amazing. The new Nokia 8 is vanilla Android, and comes with ZEISS optics and 360-degree Nokia OZO Audio sound recording, which means your videos should look and sound top notch, and is powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor with 4GB RAM. Its 5.3-inch aluminium body also comes in four colours.
Available from September, €599, nokia.com
Vivobarefoot Ultra III
These eco-friendly, amphibious trainers from Vivobarefoot and Bloom Foam are made entirely from reconstituted algal biomass, which is harvested from waterways that have a high risk of harmful algal blooms. Better than jelly shoes, any day!
Brompton Electric bicycle
Brompton aren’t always the first on the scene when it comes to bike technology, but when they do arrive to the party they do it with aplomb. Electric bikes aren’t new, but the new Brompton Electric does things a little differently, with all the style and panache you’d come to expect from brand. Instead of wedging in a bulky battery somewhere between the frame and the wheel or having it in the wheel itself, the Brompton’s battery comes in a convenient bag that you fix to the front when you’re riding, and put over your shoulder when the bike is folded for transport.
The battery itself was designed with the help of Williams Racing, and the 300Wh battery can deliver 250W to the motor for a range of 25-50 miles, way more than you’re ever going to need for a commute around the city. A smartphone app also allows you to customise your ride settings, track your mileage, and service history. Being Brompton it’s reassuringly expensive, and of course there is a waiting list, but that probably won’t stop them filling our streets in the near future.
Delivered early 2018, from £2,595, brompton.com/Electric
Levitating Death Star Speaker
It might have come to your attention that we like Star Wars, so it’ll come as absolutely no surprise that we LOVE the look of this levitating Death Star speaker. What does it do bar levitate? Who cares, it’s a Death Star that floats using what can only be explained as the Force!
Ok, it does do more than that; it’s a 5-watt bluetooth speaker that’ll pump out five hours of continuous sound in 360-degree aural beauty. Now, did someone say “that’s no moon…”
Sony Xperia Touch
Sony’s ultra-compact Xperia Touch projector sends an 80cm ‘touchscreen’ onto virtually any flat surface, and runs on Android so you don’t even have to use a laptop with it – though it has an HDMI input if you need it.
Kuaifit Sport Headphones
Remember back in the days before technology overtook our lives when going for a run needed nothing more than a sturdy pair of trainers and maybe a sweatband? Kuaifit’s sport headphones hark back to simpler times when we didn’t have to find a space for our mobile phone, MP3 player, smartwatch, and oversized cans or earbuds that won’t stay in, by basically combining it all into one bluetooth device.
These lightweight buds have a heart-rate sensor, a speed, distance and calorie counting accelerometer and an 8GB music player all built in, which means you can leave all that extra gear at home, bar maybe the sweatband (fashion still counts). Suitable for running, cycling and gym workouts, the Kuaifit Sport also has a built in personal trainer (via subscription plan) that’ll bark orders that adapt to your individual biometric data.
From £159, kuai.fit
Purism Librem laptops
If privacy and security are concerns for you, then Purism’s Librem 13 or Librem 15 could be just the laptop you’re looking for. It has a bespoke, security-focused Linux operating system, and kill switches for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, mic and camera.
From $1,699 (£1,300 approx), puri.sm
AmpliFi HD Mesh Wi-Fi
Dodgy Wi-Fi is the scourge of a good Netflix session, but one that can be relatively easily fixed with a decent mesh system, which the AmpliFi HD Mesh Wi-Fi has thus far proved to be Stateside. Good news is that it’s now available over here in the UK, so by dotting the MeshPoints throughout your house, which connect via 802.11AC Wi-Fi at speeds up to 5.45 Gbps to a groovy-looking cubed router, you’ll be able to keep bang up to date with the latest series of Stranger Things – wherever you want to watch it…
Somfy One security camera
It’s a gloomy thought, but as the summer dwindles and the nights get longer, burglaries become all the more common as. On the plus side, it does mean that around this time every year we get a fresh crop of newer and better security cameras to make us feel all safe and secure.
The Somfy One wouldn’t look out of place in even the most fashion conscious homeowner’s house, and is packed with features like a widescreen HD camera, an advanced motion detector that can differentiate between ne’er-do-wells and pets, and a 90+dB siren to deter any would-be invaders. For when there is somebody with a legitimate reason to be there (you know, like family) there is a two way microphone and a privacy shutter, which automatically covers the mic and camera when you come through the door. Safe as houses!
Nintendo 3DS XL SNES Edition
Nintendo are on a bit of a roll at the moment (ok, we might be biased because one of us got a Switch and now
productivitylunchtime has changed forever), and once again they’ve hit it out of the park with this SNES edition of the awesome 3DS XL. So yeah, it does exactly what you’d expect it to do, but looks retro enough to warrant adding to our collection when it hits these shores in October.
Available 13 October, £TBC, nintendo.co.uk
If you’re the type of person that pulls an all-night beach party (bravo for such energy) you need a portable stereo with suitable stamina – so how does 24 hours sound? Yes, you read that right, the new JBL Boombox has a 20,000mAH rechargeable battery which can last a full day! It’s also waterproof to IPX7, and can charge your devices via dual USB so you won’t have to worry about your phone packing in before your speaker does.
And if the monstrous speaker setup isn’t enough for you, you can hook it up to 100 other JBL Connect+ enabled devices, which is probably loud enough to communicate with whales in the Atlantic Ocean.
Available from autumn, £399.99, uk.JBL.com
Penclic B2 Mouse
When is a pen not a pen? When it’s a mouse. Philosophy aside, when it came time to designing the humble computer mouse it’s a wonder why pens, which are pretty much as old as the Sun, weren’t more of an inspiration. The Penclic B2 is a sort of pen-come-mouse hybrid that connects to your computer via bluetooth and works pretty much exactly like a mouse, but you hold it like a pen, the benefit of which is that keeping your hand in a more natural position reduces the chance of you getting a repetitive strain injury. Handy!
Manfrotto PIXI Pano360
The option to take panoramic photos on your phone has been around for a while, but good panoramics are still few and far between, usually with unwanted wibbles, dodgy banding and ghosts appearing from nowhere. The new Manfrotto PIXI Pano360 can’t stop spooks from raising from the dead into your pics, but it does provide a solid and vibration-free base to put your phone/action cam/DSLR on to take some pretty epic panoramas and time lapses.
It is controlled via bluetooth using an app and comes with the standard 1/4″ thread so you won’t have any problems fixing it to a tripod.
Sitting in the Sun is one of the rare treats we Brits lap up in the summertime, but as a nation we’re not the best at covering up when it’s time to get out of its glorious rays – and even when we do, that pesky thing moves! The Sunflower is a solar-powered parasol that tracks the Sun’s movements keeping you in the shade, and also comes with a security camera, UBS charger and a speaker for pumping out some chilled beats while you lounge away the afternoon.
Available 2018, £TBC, shadecraft.com